3 Years Today.

Today is my three year anniversary with my blog.

Yes, that’s right. Exactly three years ago, I started this mish-mash of collected junk I like to lovingly refer to as a “blog”.

It’s not much, but it’s mine.

And, in celebration of three (sometimes) glorious years, I would like to write a post to highlight how far I have come and the current state of thing.

Enter, the sponsored post that has been driving me nuts for the past week or so:

Curtin University Facebook post

 

Yes, Curtin. I AM dreaming of a better career. I have been for a number of years now. In fact, I have been working toward said “better career” for more than three years now.

But, pray tell, dear learning institution, what good is all that learning if there are no jobs?

What if the money I earn isn’t enough to live on?

Or enough to pay back the exorbitant interest on my student loan?

Or what if I become homeless because I cannot find a home to rent or purchase, even if I could afford one?

You see, Curtin (and other unis spruiking their wares at the end of the financial year after an incredibly harsh and damaging budget has been announced), there is no amount of learning that is going to matter if what we are striving for does not exist.

As much as I admire and strive for lifelong learning, there are sometimes strong currents in the murky waters of life that seem intent on pulling us down.

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A Simple Comment to a Video…

or Why You Don’t Ask An Internet Communications Student For A Comment On A Video Off YouTube, Because You Might Just Get What You Asked For (but that was too long for a title on my blog, so you get the simplified version).

So, it appears I cannot retire my “political hat” any time soon. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a link from the Vice Chancellor of Curtin University, Professor Terry. All in all, it’s a good delivery of an update on the goings on around campus and what she is doing to keep up-to-date with the various campuses. I, however, have the following email which I am about to send to the Vice Chancellor, as per her invitation for comments.

And now for my extensively long comment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Dear Professor Terry,

Thank you so much firstly for posting your video on YouTube, and for inviting comments. It is rare to hear someone in an actual position of authority openly ask for, and encourage feedback in such an engaging medium as the Web.

I was happy to hear you speak of the restructuring of the academic teaching system within Curtin University. As a current student, completing my Honours thesis this year with a view to going forward to higher degrees by research in order to join academia and the teaching profession, it is a relief to hear that you will not be cutting numbers of teaching staff. I do, however, offer my story as a view from the other side of the fence that you may not have considered in the implementation of these changes.

I began my undergraduate degree as an Open University’s Australia student, not because I wasn’t as committed to my studies as on campus students but because, as a mature aged, single parent student without high school completion dependant on public transport who was working full time in order to make ends meet, it afforded me the best possible opportunity to fit me life and study together in the same 24 hours everyone else had.

When I made the realisation that this degree I had undertaken was giving me a more rounded sense of accomplishment and personal pride than almost anything else I had undertaken, I decided that I would be furthering my studies. The staff of the department with which I was studying afforded me every opportunity to obtain the necessary information, facilitated my education with a shared passion for the learning material and concepts of study that I thought were a myth amongst academics.

This department was that of Internet Studies, out of the school of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University – a group of academics whom I owe a great debt of gratitude and thank no end for the development of a lifelong love of learning.

This inspiration is, I’m afraid, in spite of almost being erased from the history books due to a proposed cancellation of on campus enrolments last year. This move would have seen the end of this department – the first and only dedicated Internet Studies department in Australia. The students of this department lead and won the fight to retain the opportunity to attend on campus classes, despite opposition from the chancellory of the university, through online and offline means of protest.

But my story does not stop here.

As a current Honours student in the Arts, I have seen more uncertainty regarding the offerings to students already this year than I feel is acceptable. This is absolutely through no fault of the teaching and support staff who have done the very best with what they have had available.

I am attending classes on campus, having made arrangements with my family and employer, as an off campus option has not been made available to students this year. I have been lead to understand that this is due to a revision and restructuring of the unit material and teaching method. This, in spite of having been offered as an off campus study stream in previous years.

Class timetables were finally made available to students, in order to select the  days and times of their classes, only a few days before the beginning of the semester. We then received automated confirmation that our chosen times and days would be made available, only to be told the following week that they were not, and that the classes would be combined and only available on a single day of the week. Thankfully for me, I have a moderately flexible employer who understood that these changes to my schedule were not under my control.

We were then told, just a few weeks later, that the previously possible day and time for class to be held was still available and that the consensus of the class would be the deciding factor as to whether or not the day and time of our compulsory-attendance class would be changed in the middle of the first term. While it only took a matter of an hour or so for the decision to be made by the students that keeping the current day and time would be best, the moments of panic were felt by more than just myself, I can assure you.

I was probably not the only student who felt that continuing studying would be jeopardised if the class were to change circumstances again.

I was probably not the only student who felt that their employer might not be so understanding if study circumstances were to change again.

I was probably not the only student panicking that the Honours we had invested ourselves in might be taken away from us before we had the opportunity to really get started.

What I do know for certain is, I am the only student from my department currently studying Honours with Curtin University. Why? An unofficial poll of my fellow online students puts this down to the inability of enrolling off campus.

With so many Internet Studies students currently enrolled in off campus or online only study of the Internet Communications degree, it makes no sense to not have this further education offered online if, as you say, numbers of teaching staff have not been reduced.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus, especially with the fine online access to Curtin Library resources we now have available.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus with the degree of control and interaction possible through the Blackboard system, which served as my lecture, seminar and tutorial space for three years quite sufficiently.

It makes no sense to not offer Honours online or off campus, when the Internet Studies department of Curtin university have shown that this mode of study facilitation can create future scholars that will, one day, make Curtin University proud.

This, Professor Terry, is why I find it difficult to believe that the current restructuring at Curtin University has no negative impact on the numbers of teaching staff available to students of Curtin University. I have seen the ability of the teaching staff of Curtin University to traverse space and time to deliver a world-class degree second to none in the world. I have also seen the trials of trying to deal with university bureaucracy when staffing changes, restructuring, budget cuts, reforms and proposed denial of access take place.

Please, if you want to be sure that these staffing changes hold no negative impact for the students of Curtin University, both current and future, I suggest you ask the current students if they are seeing any ramifications from the initial changes today. You may be surprised to hear what they have to tell standing in direct opposition to what the numbers and figures suggest.

I may be just one student telling my story today, but this is not my story alone.

Many thanks for your time,

Melissa Nile.
– current Honours student of B.A. (Internet Communications)

 

TL;DR:

I didn’t write all that so you could cheat and look for the Brodie’s Notes (and if you don’t know what they are, you’re too young!) version of my email. Go read it! And get off my lawn!

Why Australia opposes Fair Use.

Having just finished this article I fear, once again, for the future. Why? Because it contains a very important message that will, ultimately, get drowned out by all the other important messages we are currently facing both here and globally… but that’s a post for another time.

Fair Use for EFF.orgAustralian copyright laws always have been considered antiquated. In fact, we are not terribly forward thinking as a nation, legislatively speaking. Copyright is, however, one of those topics that very few people understand and even fewer care about, unless they stand to profit from the proceeds of it.

Every study period throughout my undergraduate degree I was approached or pointed to a discussion regarding the unsanctioned use of unattributed copyrighted material for assignment purposes.

“But if my tutor says it’s okay to use this picture in my project, then isn’t it okay?”

“What do you mean using the writing of another person is illegal unless I have a specific agreement from the copyright holder to say I can?”

These questions, and so many others like them, resulted in me banging my head against a non-existent desk or wall, as the people I was attempting to educate gleefully told me that they didn’t care, the law was stupid, and they’d go and use copyrighted material anyway because no one was going to chase them for the royalties for their use of said material.

This.

This is why ideas like Fair Use won’t take hold here.

Fair Use is a legal idea allowing people to use copyrighted material so long as the copyright holder isn’t losing out on profits from said use. It’s that simple really. Of course, the real legal mumbo jumbo goes into exclusions and restrictions, but that’s pretty much what it amounts to.

Parliament’s a funny place. And by funny I mean disparaging to the human soul.

So, as long as the public don’t care that they’re breaking the law and could stand to lose a significant amount of money to an already filthy rich corporation (think of how many times you’ve share a meme based on someone else’s work, or a music video, or copied a line from some book onto a completely unrelated image), or face jail time and as long as politicians sit in the pockets of those corporations that believe they will miss out on all the profits if they allow people to do what they’re already “turning a blind eye” to, then legislation such as Fair Use will never take hold in Australia.

 

Still not sure what it’s all about? Check out the video below for more information.

You will never go to university.

This is an open letter to the children who will be taking over from my generation when we are done. It is more a critique of where I see our country, and perhaps the world, heading in the not-too-distant future, than any kind of real apology, but I feel that the contents need to be said before too much more time passes. I decided to write this when I realised that I was quite possibly the last person in my immediate family who would be able to attend university. The thought of rising tuition costs and other actions which have inhibited the entry to higher education for all but the affluent or extremely intelligent, was almost paralysing when I wondered what would become of my child’s employment prospects should university not be an option.

I hope the world I foresaw during the writing of this piece does not come to be. I see it as a dystopian “modge-podge” of scientific advancement beaten down by religious extremism with an unhealthy dose of ecological disaster and a sprinkling of moralistic dishonesty. We are well on the road to this scary place, but I sincerely hope that more people take a step back from their everyday actions and choose to make real and affirmative action.

LearningTo the future children of Australia,

I am writing today to let you in on a secret.

Once upon a time, in a land not very unlike your own today, many people were able to go to university. I’m serious. Most people had the opportunity to enter university, or some other higher education institution. It was an attainable goal that most had the possibility of reaching without striving too far at all. Of course, some courses cost more than others, and some courses were more difficult to be accepted into, but if you had the brain power and the desire, it was possible.

It wasn’t always glamorous. A lot of the time, you had to work as many hours as you could possibly get from your employer around your hours of study, which left precious little time for homework and assignments, let alone relaxation or general socialisation.

Sometimes, you had to go days without eating meat, or fresh vegetables. Sometimes all you could afford to eat was week old bread or two minute noodles that had an expiry date you didn’t really want to think about. You lived below the poverty line, as did all of your uni friends. You would look at your tired friends with full time jobs and envy their bank balance, their new clothes not bought from the op shop, and their ability to pay for petrol AND food in the same week. All the while, you kept your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel, and just hoped it wasn’t an oncoming train.

But you did what you could to afford all the books and stationery. You scraped and saved for your tuition fees. Sometimes, if you jumped through enough flaming hoops, you were able to get government assistance to help you through. Once upon a time, my dear children, you were even able to defer the costs of your tuition and pay the government back when you started earning above a certain amount. We truly believed, as did some of those in politics, that everyone should have the option of studying at higher level, regardless of their postcode.

I know that it must seem unfair to you now. Given how much it all costs, and how hard it is to even scrape together enough to do a simple short course at a college for a few weeks, it seems unfathomable to go to university for a few years. Even if you did manage to get into university, you may not be able to get a job in your chosen field.

That’s very scary. That’s not to mention the fact that everyone your age is trying for the same cheaper courses, all in the hopes of getting their foot in the door to a job interview at somewhere other than the local fast food outlet or menial labour position. The desire to escape the shackles of a workplace that displays complete disregard for the laws surrounding employment conditions, simply because their staff are too scared of losing their jobs to complain about any of the unsafe, or illegal practices, is one I understand all too well. I was there, once upon a time, but my case was a rare one for my time. For you, it is an every day occurrence.

The secret wasn’t all I wanted to say though. I also want to apologise.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that higher education is out of your reach. I’m sorry I couldn’t earn enough to put you through university. I’m sorry you have to apply to groups such as UNICEF for the chance to win your higher education. I’m sorry that the government my generation voted in for only three years, managed to destroy university opportunities so very badly for you all.

I’m sorry that you are now forced to work long hours at a job you hate for minimum wage, simply because you couldn’t get a degree that would have allowed you access to a better paying career with promotion opportunities. I’m sorry that you and your partner will have to both work two jobs to make sure you can afford to pay rent AND feed your kids, should you choose to have any. I’m sorry you can’t afford to put a deposit down on your own home because you don’t earn enough to pay a mortgage. I’m so very very sorry.

I’m sorry that even if you did manage to get accepted into university, that you have to pick your career path very carefully, because you won’t be able to afford a second lot of self-education because it’s not covered by your tax cap.


We thought we knew it all. We were the generation that had everything going for it, and nothing to lose. That was until we lost everything.

It started fairly innocently enough. There was a general sense of ennui. Our idea of taking a stand and having our voices heard amounted to thing more than adding our name and address to an online petition, or perhaps liking a Facebook page. Back in our day, Facebook was only just starting to become the multinational conglomerate it is now. You probably don’t believe me, but we all thought it was a great way of keeping up to date with our friends without really having to commit to a face-to-face conversation.

Nothing more than that. Just a “harmless” social networking site. Oh, how wrong were we to be proven. But that, my dear, is a story for another day.

Sure, we still protested, thinking it would make a difference. Somehow, though, the fire wasn’t there that it had been for previous generations. Maybe it was the fact that we would have all preferred to be at home in front of our computers, safe in our anonymity. Maybe it was the fact that the laws were changed so that any unauthorised groups of more than to people were suddenly illegal. Maybe it was the fact that if we boycotted anything there was the likelihood of someone being sued. Who knows? All we remember is one day turning around and realising just how screwed up things had become. By that point, of course, nothing short of revolution was going to be able to change things, and we as a nation were unlikely to form like that. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, in our self-absorbed mediated lives, we had become a society like something out of a book.

I am not the only one who should be apologising to you, for having made the world the nightmare that it is for you. I’m disappointed by my fellows and contemporaries. Not because of their inaction so much as their collective inability to join the few of us who have dared critique the world we have created. En masse, we could do something, but it would need to be all of us, and it would need to be now. Of course, having said that, it may already be too late. You have freedoms from the constraints and pressures of higher education, while we had the freedom of it. They’re two side of the coin. It’s a fine line of difference, but when you’ve seen where the line is and what it stands for, it can mean all the difference in the world.


Oh, my dear blinded an uneducated children, I am so very very sorry for all that we have done, but I am even more sorry for all we did not do.

Yours in sorrow,

Nephthys.

For those who are not aware, the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is the story I refer to in the latter part of this piece. If you have not read it, I would highly recommend it as a very good book to read. Regardless of your views on religion, it is a good treatment of the “what-ifs” of religious extremism managing to take over the political arena in troubled and turmoiled times, such as those we are currently experiencing. This book, combined with ideas from Snowcrash by Neil Stephenson is how I envision the world becoming within my own lifetime should we not stop and reflect on the consequences of our actions. If you have not read either of these books, please do yourself a favour and do so. They will change your thinking on how the world is and could be.

References:

ABC News, (2013). Two-thirds of university students living below the poverty line: report. Accessed via: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-15/majority-of-students-in-poverty2c-research-shows/4821230

Atwood, M., (2012). Haunted by The Handmaids’ Tale. The Guardian. Accessed via: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jan/20/handmaids-tale-margaret-atwood

Denholm, M., (2013). Companies to get protections from activists’ boycotts. National Affairs – The Australian. Accessed via: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/companies-to-get-protection-from-activists-boycotts/story-fn59niix-1226724817535

Evans, C., (2012). Keeping the doors open to all. Ministers’ Website for Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. Accessed via: http://archive.innovation.gov.au/ministersarchive2013/chrisevans/articles/pages/keepingthedoorsopentoall.aspx.htm

Evans, C., (2012). Tony Abbot to slash support for university students. Ministers’ Website for Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. Accessed via: http://archive.innovation.gov.au/ministersarchive2013/chrisevans/mediareleases/pages/tonyabbotttoslashsupportforuniversitystudents.aspx.htm

O’Connor, D., (2013). Making (self) education unaffordable. Gadens. Accessed via: http://www.gadens.com.au/publications/Pages/Making-self-education-unaffordable.aspx

Sricharatchanya, H., (n.d.). Education – for some still an unattainable dream. UNICEF EAPRO – Media Centre. Ccessed via: http://www.unicef.org/eapro/media_19255.html

Stephenson, N., (1992). Snowcrash. Random House Publishing.

Western Australian Consolidated Acts, (2013). Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 – Notes. Chapter IX – Unlawful assemblies: Breaches of the peace. Accessed via: (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/ccaca1913252/notes.html

When disaster strikes.

If you have ever been through a natural disaster, you will no doubt have had the terrible time of checking off all the belonging you have lost in your mind. This tends to come some days after the actual event, and really is part of the natural grieving process. After loss of lives, the loss of personal belongings is probably the hardest thing to come to terms with, especially after a disaster like a bush fire taking your home.

bush fireThose of us living in the city tend not to concern ourselves with action plans necessary to survive natural disaster events, and when my house was burnt to the ground in 1999, I had never conceived of the need for an action plan. Australia is currently experiencing record-breaking heat waves, which always bring with the heat the chance of deadly and destructive bush fires.

What can you do to prepare? Each person and family will have different needs, depending on their particular situation, but here is a list I have come up with. Take note of the points that apply to you and your loved ones, as they could save your life and important belongings.

  • If you have pets, keep them inside and have carry cases ready. You will need to pack them and a little food and water for them. Letting them out of the house will only stress them out and you run the risk of them running away or being caught by the fire.
  • Have a battery operated or dynamo powered radio tuned in to the emergency broadcast station (in Australia, that is the ABC). You will receive news of evacuation plans, routes and assembly points. You will also get information on where the fire is, its heading and current safe zones.
  • Pack a change of clothes, water bottles, identification and medication for everyone in one backpack. Toiletries can be bought elsewhere when you have time to stop.
  • Make sure that any important documents are backed up, preferably digitally and on a small form hard drive. If you can, make this a flash drive/thumb drive/usb stick or a small external hard drive. While they may not be much help in replacing documents, they are at least some kind of proof that you are who you say you are.
  • Keep listening to the emergency broadcasts. If you get the notice to evacuate, move all young and invalid people into your car first, followed by pets and the gear then drive in a sensible and orderly fashion to your designated assembly zone. Make sure you have been accounted for, or the fire brigade will assume you are still in your place of residence.
  • If you have livestock, open all gates. They will instinctively run away from the fire to safety. You can always look for them once it is safe to return to the area.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, return to your home until you have been told it is safe to do so. Embers can reignite and start fires again. If you’re in doubt, contact the fire brigade or emergency teams in your team. When you do return, do a check of the property and surrounds as best as you can before unloading the vehicle.

This is not an exhaustive list. Everybody’s action list will be different and there are tips given by the authorities which have not been listed here. If you have anything you think should be added to the list, please add a comment below!

Do What You Can With What You’ve Got.

In light of this week of the rather strange tradition of “New Year’s Resolution” (something I’ve never really understood), I thought I would write a little about why goal setting shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Finish Line Ambition and aspiration are great. Everyone needs goals. The problems comes when we under- or over-estimate our capabilities and other demands on our resources. To what do I elude? Knowing when what you want to achieve is too much, or when you’ve picked a task that is too easy.

In choosing an easy-to-achieve goal, we might think that we are setting ourselves a standard which precludes us from disappointment. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If you reach the finish line of a marathon, only to admit that it was actually a quarter mile, would you still tell everyone your ran a marathon? No. The same goes for other goals you want to achieve. Let me be clear on this – Not everything you set out to achieve is a goal. Sometimes, it is a step to the real goal. The celebration should be reserved for the real end goal, not completion of each step on the path.

When setting yourself a goal that is too difficult, or too optimistic, you st yourself up for disappointment. IF you know it’s too much of a stretch for you to run the marathon, then set your goal of the half-marathon. If you can’t run, choose a different goal! Why set yourself a goal you simply cannot achieve?

What I am saying is this: Before you can set yourself realistic and achievable goals, you need to first take a look at yourself, your life and the other things which you will have taking time, energy and other resources away from being able to commit to those goals. Otherwise you will either be unhappy with your lack of success, or feel that you could have done better. Throwing in the towel is too easy to do when all hope seems lost, simply because you didn’t take the time to assess your options first.

Happy New Year 2014!

And bye bye to 2013. Here is a look at the year that was.

Happy New Year

January:
I held a friend’s hand while she got a tattoo she had been wanting for many years. a few weeks later I started on my own tattoo project, completing a wish that I had had for many years also. It brought me one step closer to how I believe I ought to look. I braved the back-to-school madness to shop for my child’s return to education for the year. Only missing out on a few items which had sold out, it was my most successful year yet. I also entered my third year of my undergraduate degree– the beginning of the home run, so to speak. Having injured my right knee in the previous month, I continued to hobble around, catching public transport to and from work and elsewhere, with the aid of crutches, painkillers and anti-inflammatories. I also broke a toe. My family (grandmother and my father) met the family of my partner (mother and father) with amusing results. I also started as the Employee Engagement Officer for my office at Medibank, bringing (hopefully) joy and mirth to an otherwise dry and dull office.

February:
I continued work on my tattoo project: three hours at a time, every two weeks. Definitely a labour of love. My degree also continued. February, it would have seemed, was the months of continuation.

March:
I began my internship with Living Smart, work which still matters a lot to me to this day. I got new glasses, which in itself might not seem much, but as I had not worn glasses for some years, it was big to me. Thank you to Kate, Jenny and the whole family at Living Smart for letting me be part of your fabulous project.

April:
I continued working on the website for Living Smart, bringing the group’s presence online into greater clarity and letting it act as a better representation of the great work this group does. I went to Oz ComicCon and met Alan Tudyk, and had my dinosaurs signed by the man. It was in stark contrast to the rest of the months, which saw me begin the fight against changes to the admissions for the degree I am studying at Curtin University. A strong web, email and social media campaign thwarted efforts to make on campus enrollments obsolete, potentially leading the only dedicated Internet Studies department in Australia to its demise.

May:
I attended some events later in the month which allowed me to indulge in the darker part of my personality, with some very gratifying results (no spoilers here). My child turned 11, making me realise that it is probably too late to really be considering another child, as the age gap would be vast. I also began working on a research project which was to try my already strained patience.

June:
I continued to see the doctor regarding the damage done to my knee back in December of the previous year. Six months later and the repair was going slowly, but as expected.

July:
In writing the proposal for my research project, I realised that the paywalls of of research institutions and publishers is the single most defining obstacle to my metastudy. Much banging of my metahead against a metawall ensues. Attending the ANZCA Early Research pre-conference fires my imagination and passion for research, but returning to my study only drops me deeper into a paywall-facilitated rage. I quit my job to focus on my study, hoping to get a job with more steady hours. This dis not happen straight away. I attended the last Profs and Pints event of the year, put on by Scitech, this time as a member of the panel. We discuss the pros and cons of censorship. On the panel with me were expert in their fields. As an undergrad, I felt more than a little out of my depth however, I believe I managed with moderate success.

August:
The AICP (Association of Internet Communications Professionals) became a thing! It was a month of interview after interview after interview, jut hoping for something that wasn’t taking advantage of me, but was also rewarding. I started to become disillusioned with how my job hunting was going. I also attended Can’t Stop The Serenity, the worldwide fundraising event for Equality Now. The Perth Browncoats managed to raise US$8,500 (the highest donation of any CSTS city this year!) toward the worldwide total of US$110,783.53.

September:
The interviews continued, as did the rejection letters and phone calls. I escaped from it all by flying to Sydney to attend the annual swarm conference, after running their blog for the lead up to the event. This is also volunteer work that I do, but it fills my heart to see such a great event for community managers and those working in social media taking off and getting bigger and better every year. Thank you so much to Venessa and Alison for allowing me to be part of their event. I applied for, interviewed for and was offered a position working with two graduates of the very same degree I am! The wedding that had been planned and prepared for in three months was cancelled, propelling me into one of the darkest times to date.

October:
The exam schedule for my one and only exam this year was published. It was with a shaking hand and a raised heart beat that I booked my spot in the exam that would herald the completion of phase one of my undergraduate degree. I began my position with Real Estate Tribe and my learning streak on life in the fast lane of real estate and online tools. One of my best friends came over and stayed with me during what was going to be a very trying time. Thank you Rachael for making it seem all the easier.

November:
I celebrated my 32nd birthday. Many friends were with me and fun was had by all. I was taken out, as part of my birthday celebrations, to see the Joss Whedon rendition of Much Ado About Nothing, which was nothing short of wonderful. November also saw me celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with my family. It was great to see so many people getting into a once-forgotten and laughed at television program that is so dear to my heart(s). I also sat for my final exam in sociology. I felt incredibly nervous going in to the exam room, and coming out of it, but while I was sitting in front of my paper I felt very confident. I guess it just shows that if you cover the same material often enough, it will finally stick.

December:
Which brings us to the last month of the year. I attended the Living Smart Christmas party and was thanked for my work. I applauded as my friend graduated (well done Rachael!), albeit from across the other side of the country.

In summary, I did a lot of stuff this year. Some of it time-consuming. Some of it heartbreaking. Some of it mind-numbing. All of it has brought me to the place where I stand now, ready to take on 2014 and whatever it brings. To everyone who has been reading my blog, and to those I have traveled through this year with – Thank you and may your 2014 bring you challenges and triumphs!